Precious metals are recovering after the sell-off in late 2011, with silver and related exchange traded funds taking the lead.

The iShares Silver Trust (NYSEArca: SLV), PowerShares DB Silver Fund (NYSEArca: DBS) and ETFS Physical Silver Shares (NYSEArca: SIVR) are all up about 20% year-to-date.

Silver price gains outpaced other precious metals, increasing almost 20% in January for its largest monthly rally in nine months, reports Amanda Cooper for Reuters. [Silver ETFs Shine as 50-Day Average Recaptured]

In comparison, gold futures rose 11% in January, which are still the highest January gold price gains since 1980 and the largest one-month gain since August. SPDR Gold Shares (NYSEArca: GLD) is up 11.4% year-to-date.

There are still a couple of macroeconomic factors that are in silver’s favor, Martin Denholm writes for Wall Street Daily. [What’s in Store for Silver ETFs?]

Interest rates in developed and emerging markets remain extremely low, leading to weaker currencies and pushing investors toward precious metals viewed as a better store of wealth.

Developed economies are also struggling to generate economic growth. During times of economic uncertainty, precious metals like silver can provide refuge from market volatility.

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